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Jun 15, 2008 02:53 PM

Kikuchi, Fitzrovia, London

An picturesque name - Chrysanthemum Pond.

Excellent yakitori - supple meat, beautiful sauce (tare) - mellow, richly flavoured but not thick and sticky.

Outstanding tsukune (chicken meatballs) -- very light, spongy on the bite in, brilliant texture. Within the meatball, beautiful proportion of very fined diced carrots and (iirc) shiso. More of the wonderful tare. The fibres of the meat were very fine and short but it wasn't a smooth paste; I suspect the chicken was handchopped rather than minced through a machine.

Stir fried white asparagus with the gloss of butter. Crisp and fresh, ripping sharply on the teeth.

Fine turbot (hirame iirc) sashimi, no tough fibres, comes with microgreens that add a pleasant mild but sharp vegetal flavour and dark bands of olive-coloured wakame.

I really liked the quivering and delicate home made tofu, given a lively edge with finely minced ginger and chopped green onion.

Excellent fried smelt/shishamo, all pregnant, roe richly popping in the mouth.

A nice kushi katsu (deep fried breadcrumbed pork on a skewer) a roulade with a centre of umeshiso (pickled plum and shiso leaf), the centre sourness a good contrast to the crisp frying.

Good sushi -- firm snappy razorclam, fleshy amberjack, glistening rippy prawn with a lovely sweetness, luxuriant toro/fatty tuna. The slices of fish/seafood was thin but very well calibrated, very well balanced against the rice. The rice seemed a little more of individualized grains that the usual slightly more sticky sushi rice I've generally had. This vaguely reminded of the sushi rice at a place in SF with a strong Osaka background, where they told me that this style of rice was more typical of the region. I did notice that they had Kansai style battera on the menu, could this be a reflection of the chef's origins? Admittedly I'm a novice outside of edo-mae (Tokyo style) sushi, hope others will chime in.

Good sake, the chinese/kanji characters read "heavenly dog dance" can't remember the anglicized name, sorry. Middle of the road in terms of sweet and dry, very balanced.

A solid green tea ice cream for dessert.

On the expensive side (~£70 for all of this) but quite worth it, imho. Certainly a notch up from Donzoko in terms of quality and price. They have a £20 minimum, and the bill came with a £5 voucher for the next meal.

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  1. Ate here at the bar recently, guided through the menu by the adorable waitresses, the various selected nigri identified by our chef with great friendliness in limited english. Outstanding food, from both the master in front of us and the kitchen below. Very expensive by my standards, but still felt like excellent value. I hadn't booked, and turned up at six to be given an out time of one hour, which I had no problem with, though next time I'll reserve if I want to eat closer to the time I normally do. Though I've been taken to lots of Japanese restaurants, this felt like my first true experience of Japanese cuisine as distinct from any other food culture I'm familiar with. So much looking forward to returning and cashing that voucher!

    1 Reply
    1. re: skut

      Thanks for the review, love to hear more when you return. They didn't have ika somen when I was there and I've been meaning to go back to try it. It's still the most refined izakaya I've been to in London.

    2. Sounds like a very authentic Japanese spot.
      Address link:

      14 Hanway St, Camden Town, Greater London W1T 1, GB

      1. Limster, this one had been on my radar for a long while, finally tried it out. Standout dishes were the tsukune which you mention above and the snow crab tempura, both superlative. Sushi rolls were excellent too and good value, we opted for fatty tuna/spring onion and salmon. Seaweed salad was fine too. A sashimi assortment offered tasty, well-cut fish but was overpriced at £18 for 8 pieces (2 each of salmon, tuna, sweet prawn and mackerel). Definitely a mistake on our part to visit on the Tuesday after Easter weekend, they didn't have certain fish/shellfish that we requested. Had a bottle of Dewazakura Oka ("Cherry Bouquet") ginjo sake for £36, a light fragrant sake from a fairly large, well-known brewery in Yamagata prefecture. I was quite impressed by their sake list, they had a couple of options from Akita prefecture (whose sakes I like) including a namazake (seasonal release, unpasteurised, these generally have a bigger, fruitier flavour profile) for £56 (720ml).

        Overall we paid £53 each and I could probably have eaten more so yes this place is definitely on the pricey side. An extensive menu, there were lots of items I would happily have ordered, I need to revisit and sample more.

        It certainly belongs in the top bracket of London izakayas/Japanese eateries, has a distinctly Japanese feel and ambience as well.

        Btw I asked and was told that the chef comes from Hokkaido which generally means an excellence with seafood, on my way out I realised that I wasn't sure whether they meant that the sushi chef or the kitchen chef(s) is/are from Hokkaido, I'll clarify next time, would be interesting to know.